A season ago, junior tight end Colin Jeter caught more passes than any LSU player at the position since DeAngelo Peterson back in 2011.
While 12 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown isn’t a big deal for most college tight ends these days, it could be viewed as a start for the Tigers’ run-first, run-often offensive attack.
Going into preseason practice as a starter for the first time in his three-year career following one season at Kilgore (Texas) Junior College, the 6-foot-7, 254-pound Jeter could be the guy to break the mold this season.
At least one of his teammates thinks so.
“He’s the dude,” sophomore tight end Foster Moreau said last week.
While Jeter had a breakout 2015 season in becoming the first LSU tight end to have double-digit receptions since Peterson had 18 in LSU’s run to the Southeastern Conference title in 2011, it may not be that simple when it comes to the passing game.
What is simple, Jeter said, is doing your job within the framework of the offense.
“Obviously, it’s a question we hear every year,” he said of the tight ends and their lack of catches. “But it’s not a matter of what we’re doing, or how we’re doing it, on offense. As long as we’re executing our jobs as each individual player and as a unit, we’re going to score points.
“That’s the biggest thing … we have the capability to do everything on the field this year. We can run the ball and we can throw the ball deep, intermediate and short. So, we can do it all; we just have to execute and show the rest of the nation that we can.”
While it remains to be seen, hope springs eternal for fans who’ve pleaded to see LSU tight ends do more than just block or serve as decoys when called on to wander past the line of scrimmage on pass routes.
For Jeter and his fellow tight ends — DeSean Smith and Moreau — that means remaining patient and doing whatever you’re asked to do when you’re asked to do it.
All of Jeter’s 12 career receptions came a year ago, while Smith’s nine catches for 162 yards has been spread over his first three seasons. Moreau is still waiting for his first college catch.
“It’s not like we’re not running routes,” Jeter said. “We’re always ready to catch a ball and I think we’ve shown that more and more. DeSean and I are seniors now, and we’ve gotten older and older and have really become playmakers in the offense.
“We just have to continue to prove that and make plays when they come our way. So, whether we’re blocking, receiving or whatever, it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re scoring points and winning football games, who cares?”
The process includes striving to get better in all aspects of the position.
Jeter said he’s constantly trying to improve his footwork, hands, leverage, blocking and route-running after putting on a little more weight this offseason.
The biggest thing, he said, was his leverage.
“Just being a tall guy, leverage is really important,” he said. “At 6-7, it’s going to be hard to get up and under everyone, so it takes more and more work.
“If you think you’re the best at anything, then you’re not a player. So I’m doing everything I can to be the best tight end I can be.”
To Jeter, that means watching Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Jason Witten, a future Pro Football Hall of Famer who last season recorded his 1,000th career catch.
While that’s a number that has to be unfathomable to someone who has just 12 receptions in two college seasons, Jeter, a Texan, said it’s easy to watch Witten and pick up some tips.
“I just love that he’s always been … he’s not a big talker, but he always does his job,” Jeter said. “He’s consistent and he’s clutch when they need him to be. That’s who I’ve always tried to, I guess, model my game after.”